LICENSED ACCESS AND PUBLIC ACCESS BARRISTER
Are you or your clients dealing with an HMRC tax investigation or tax appeal?
Would you prefer to work directly with a barrister to defend your case or your client?
Instructing a barrister directly can save you time and money and give you consistent legal advice throughout the legal process of resolving your tax dispute.
The Direct Access (or Public Access) scheme allows members of the public seeking legal advice or representation to instruct an authorised barrister such as Julian Hickey directly, without the need to first engage the services of a solicitor. Further details are available here: Direct Access Portal (barcouncil.org.uk)
The Licensed Access scheme allows commercial organisations (such as CIOT, STEP, ICAEW) members of selected professional bodies to instruct Julian Hickey directly, without the need to first engage the services of a solicitor. Further details are available here: Licensed Access Recognition Regulations (barstandardsboard.org.uk)
The advantage of Direct Access or Licensed Access is that, for the right cases, you can save both time and expense as you are only paying for the services of one legal professional to represent you when dealing with HMRC during a tax enquiry/ investigation, in court or at a tax tribunal hearing.
If you feel able to conduct work required on your case that would otherwise be done by a solicitor (e.g. collate documents, complete forms, collect evidence) choosing a Direct Access barrister might be a good option for you. If your case is not suitable for the Direct Access scheme, Julian will be able to recommend a specialist tax solicitor or accountant to assist you. However, Julian is also licensed to conduct litigation, and in appropriate circumstances he will be able to assist you in the overvall preparation for court and tribunal proceedings (see Conducting-Litigation.pdf (barstandardsboard.org.uk)).
You can find more information about the Public Access scheme on the Bar Standard Board’s Guidance for Lay Clients document, which is available from their website here.
Get in touch
Using the contact form, outline the key aspects of your case, investigation or appeal. Julian will then review your information and advise if he can assist you. You will also receive an approximate fee estimate so that you can decide if you wish to proceed further. However, it is also possible to ask for a fixed quotation for the work.
Confirm that you wish to proceed
Once you have confirmed in writing that you want to go ahead, Julian will request further information to enable him to confirm that your case is suitable for Public Access.
Accept the Public Access terms of engagement
Once it has been confirmed that your case is suitable for Public Access, the clerk will contact you to:
- Provide a formal fee quote (which may be a fixed fee or a conditional fee). Fees are payable in advance
- Provide the written terms of engagement
- Request that you supply ID for anti-money laundering purposes
- Agree a turnaround time for the work
- Outline Julian’s availability to attend a court or tribunal hearing or meeting (whether virtual or otherwise)
With many years of experience dealing with both solicitors, tax advisers and Direct Access clients, Julian Hickey is well-known for his discretion, practical thinking and approachable style. Julian will work with you to understand every aspect of your case and keep you updated as your case progresses.
A barrister who has completed a Public Access training course approved by the Bar Standards Board can do the following when working on a Direct Access tax case:
- Give initial advice on your tax case, either in writing, by email, or at a meeting (whether virtual or otherwise)
- Correspond with HMRC
- Draft tax appeals (if a barrister is licensed solely for direct access they cannot issue documents or letters on your behalf, so you will need to do this yourself or instruct a third party to do so)
- Present your challenge in court or at a tax tribunal
- Draft court documents so that your case is presented clearly and effectively
- Draft any other legal documents as required
Refer you to a specialist expert if required and help you to instruct them correctly
The rules on Direct Access mean that a barrister is not allowed to do any of the following:
- Engage in correspondence on your behalf, although Julian is happy to draft letters on your behalf for you to send
- Take responsibility for the general management of your case
- Make or arrange payment of any court fees, expert’s fees or witnesses’ expenses
- Issue proceedings, file documents at court or serve documents on other parties
Investigate a case or collect evidence
A barrister’s fees are usually calculated according to their experience, the complexity of the case and the length of time involved in dealing with it. Once you have outlined the main facts of your case and Julian has seen key documents relating to it, he will give you an estimate of costs and consideration of prospects of success. Once costs are agreed, a barrister’s fees must be paid in advance.
Currently, public funding (Legal Aid) cannot be used to instruct a barrister direct.
Under the Bar Council’s Licensed Access Scheme, tax barristers such as Julian Hickey can be instructed directly by members of the following professional bodies without the need for a solicitor as an intermediary:
- Association of Authorised Public Accountants
- Association of Taxation Technicians
- Chartered Association of Certified Accountants
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
- Chartered Institute of Taxation
- Insolvency Practitioners Association
- Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Institute of Financial Accountants
- Institute of Indirect Taxation
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Under the terms of the license, members of these professional bodies can instruct barristers directly on cases either relating to their own affairs or on behalf of their clients.
Julian is licensed to conduct litigation. For further information see: Conducting-Litigation.pdf (barstandardsboard.org.uk). Julian can provide assistance in relation to:
- the issuing of proceedings before any court in England and Wales;
- the commencement, prosecution and defence of such proceedings; and
- the performance of any ancillary functions in relation to such proceedings (such as entering appearances to actions).
The BSB’s view is that the following fall within the definition of the conduct of litigation, and therefore a barrister should refuse to do them if they are not authorised to conduct litigation:
- issuing proceedings or applications (beginning court proceedings by filing details of the claim, such as the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim, at court, or making an application for a court order);
- filing an acknowledgement of proceedings;
- giving their address as the address for service of documents;
- filing documents at court or serving documents on another party;
- issuing notices of appeal (informing the court and the other side that the unsuccessful party seeks a review of the case);
- signing off on a list of disclosure (so that all parties know of all documents which have a bearing on the case); and
- laying of an information in a Magistrates’ court.
If a barrister is authorised to conduct litigation:
- They must within an agreed timescale, or within a reasonable period of time, comply with any undertaking they give in the course of conducting litigation (Rule C11 in the BSB Handbook);
- This does not affect the prohibition on receiving or handling clients’ money, except as payment for fees (Rule C73 – C75). The prohibition means that a barrister cannot make disbursements on behalf of a client; for example, by paying court fees or witnesses’ expenses;
- They must, if they are of less than three years’ standing, have a ‘qualified person’ for conducting litigation at their principal place of practice or, if they are practising in a dual capacity, at each of their principal places of practice (Rule S20.2).
- This does not affect the prohibition on undertaking the general management, administration or conduct of a client’s affairs (Rule S25); and
- They may act as a ‘professional client’ i.e. instruct another barrister on behalf of a client. The definition of ‘professional client’ in the BSB Handbook states that ‘any BSB authorised person who is authorised to conduct litigation’ may give instructions to a barrister.
GET IN TOUCH
If you would like to discuss your tax situation, and you feel that a Direct Access or Licensed Access barrister can assist you with legal advice and representation then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the clerks using the contact form.